School’s not out for summer

A Mayo man in Galway
School’s not out for summer

Edwin McGreal

It is exam time in NUI Galway and some are feeling the pressure. Just as many aren’t. The weather doesn’t help. The second semester exams are called the summer exams which seems fitting – as they are on during what will probably be the only bit of summer we’ll see in the west of Ireland.There’s two ways the weather is looked upon up here among students. For those chasing good grades and good degrees, particularly final year students, the weather is nothing but a hindrance. It certainly is not good for the buzz going into the library for the day with the sun splitting the stones outside.
I must admit to belonging to this first category. I came back to do my final year in Arts and went in with the intention of trying to make a decent fist of it. So far, so good but every man and woman has a breaking point. It would appear to be a much lower point though for those in the second category.
For them the good weather is a gift. It is a good excuse not to study. To be honest, not much of an excuse is needed. If the skies were lashing rain, a double episode of Friends on E4 would be enough of an excuse. But the conscience feels that much better if the dossing is outside in the good weather. And, of course, weather like this makes going to a beer-garden or house parties a very viable option. Damn their carefree ways!
But there are consequences too. I’m not searching for the moral high ground here for one moment because I was that idle student in first and second year Arts. Thing is the exams can be
a bit panicky when they come around.  You  might have to answer two long questions in an exam and are told to learn off four topics to be sure two of them come up. Too many times I learned the bare essential of two questions and got lucky, again and again. Knowing that karma can bite when you least want it, I took no such risks going into my first exam, in Comparative Public Policy, last week. It meant I prepared a full question on the financial crisis and it didn’t turn up. It is borderline cruelty to get someone to read the Honahan Report on the Irish Financial Crisis only to leave the question absent from the paper. Thankfully the question that did come up – on Risk and Public Policy – allowed me to refer to the Corrib gas controversy extensively. There’s not too many times a Mayo journalist is grateful for the ongoing saga in Erris but this was certainly one of them.
Beside me was a girl who must have taken a gamble and just prepared two questions. She didn’t write a word for the first hour before getting up to leave. She’ll be back in August. It will probably be wet and miserable then. At least she can say she enjoyed the summer while it was here.